Judaism.com is an online merchant, selling Judaica. They recently launched a campaign to sell Red Strings, stating the following:
“It’s an amulet for spiritual and physical blessing. It protects me against an Aiyin Hara, ‘the evil eye of jealousy.’ The truth is, it’s all that and much more. According to tradition, a Red String wound around the stone marker over Rachel’s grave seven times, while reciting various Hebrew prayers. Including Psalm 33, the mystical prayer Ana B’Koach and Asher Yatzar. The string is then cut into bracelet size lengths and is worn on the left hand as a symbolic request for spiritual and physical protection and blessings. No one actually knows how or exactly when the custom of wearing a Red String began. But we do know that every detail contains deep significance.”
Judaism.com proliferates lies, misleading people to buy their products. They violate a Tosefta in Talmud Sabbath (Chap. 7) that states Red Strings are the ways of the Emorites. Despite this, they continue to be more interested in sales and deception, than in upholding Torah. They also admit they are ignorant of the source of the Red String, as they state, “No one actually knows how or exactly when the custom of wearing a Red String began.” But Tosefta Sabbath does state its source: the idolatrous Emorites. Judaism.com does not wish to abandon the sales of something, which they admit they are ignorant of, and of which, the Rabbis of our Talmud identify as a Heathen practice. Statements of the Rabbis must be adhered to over admitted ignorance of current day peddlers.
Judaism.com also promotes a video, which says the following:
“We are looking to be protected from forces beyond our control. The Red string has been infused with mystical, Kabbalistic powers at the tomb of Rachel. It promises the protection of the Evil Eye. Judaism.com wants to reclaim this Red String as Jewish tradition. This Red String becomes blessed with special authentic and proven qualities; to remove pain, the Evil Eye, to bless children who will live on, and afford easier pregnancies. We pray that this string may be a protection for us.”
In light of these misrepresentations of true Judaism, a number of Rabbis and Torah educators have spoken out against Judaism.com’s practices:
Rabbi, Rinat Yisrael, Plainview, N.Y.
Founder, Mesoret Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies
“Judaism is based on emulating the ways of Hashem that He has revealed to us. The Torah refers to G-d as, “abundant in compassion and truth.” Those who seek to spread Judaism must be scrupulously truthful and compassionate. We therefore may not mislead people and take advantage of them by exploiting their fears and insecurities. The idea that a “Red Bendel” or any other religious object affords protections is contrary to Torah, which teaches that Hashem is Absolutely Just and is “close to all who call upon him in truth.” (Ashrei Prayer) Thus, it is clear that our well-being is not based on the imaginary powers of objects, but on achieving Divine favor through good deeds and sincere prayer.
Founder/Rosh Yeshiva - Mesivta of North Jersey
“Since the wondrous day of the Revelation at Sinai, where the Jewish people were given the Torah reflecting the unbounded wisdom of the Creator, we have been given the mission of involvement in and appreciation of that wisdom. Attraction to fads, incantations, and seeming “shortcuts” to a life of meaning and depth are antithetical to the Torah way of life. The advent of wearing a Red Stringto ward off evil forces and influences can be traced to various pagan societies as evidenced by articles in any encyclopedia of superstition, and is prohibited by the Torah as reflected in Tosefta Shabbos 7:1. I myself have heard from Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, that wearing such strings constitutes a Torah violation.
My brothers and sisters of Israel, people created with the divine mission to live and learn Torah -- the Torah itself, as reflected in the Bible and in the Talmud and commentaries is everything that we need to live a life of truth. Let us enjoy the majesty and nobility of the depth of Torah, and not turn to illusions.”
Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman
Rosh Yeshiva, Rambam Mesivta, Lawrence, NY
“Belief in the Red Bendel as a protective device is a idolatrous. God is the only source of protection. Divine Providence emanates from Him alone. Placing trust in or attributing powers to physical objects is repugnant and rejected wholeheartedly by Judaism. It is a shame that there are so many charlatans who are feeding on the misfortunes of others by ‘selling these so called protective devices’. Desperate people who face real life difficulties are compounding their troubles both practically and philosophically by failing to put their trust in the Almighty. It is precisely during these difficult times that we are put to the test to see if we will reject false but attractive quick fixes like the colored piece of wool. Those who succeed in doing so and embrace Hashem will be rewarded.”
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Congregation Bnai Yeshurun
Teaneck, New Jersey
March 3, 2005
I was distressed to view on your web-site “Judaism.com” something for sale called “the authentic red string”. On one level, we would have wished that modern man had progressed beyond the stage of belief in the magical powers of icons and amulets. But on a deeper level, it is extremely distasteful that such a borderline-idolatrous object should be offered for sale on what purports to be a Jewish web site - alongside traditional objects like challah boards and kiddush cups.
I assume you are unaware that these red strings constitute the very antithesis of Judaism and all that we stand for. We believe in the power of God alone, and have willingly martyred ourselves in sanctification of His name and in defense of that sublime notion of one, all-powerful, incorporeal God.
These red strings are a Jewish as the cross, and I would respectfully urge you to immediately remove them from your site, with an explanatory note as to the reason for their removal. And may together we bring the light of Torah to the world.
Very truly yours,
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
The following are my unheeded letters to Judaism.com:
Although featuring Jews, your
‘Red String Movie’ and Red String sales violate Talmud Shabbos, Tosefta,
Chapter 7: “Red Strings are the way of the Emorites” and are prohibited by
Torah. Please remove this idolatrous film from your site and cease your sale of
Red Strings. God alone protects the Jew: Someone righteous will not be harmed
if he does not wear these Red Strings, and a wicked person will not be saved if
he does. Red Strings are foolish and prohibited.
I thank you in advance for acting in line with true, Torah principles. I will look forward to seeing your immediate removal of this Heathen, idolatrous practice from your website.”
(After a week, and clearly identifying the source declaring the Red String as idolatrous, Judaism.com has not removed their Torah violation...I wrote again)
“Many others seek to learn the truth of Torah, while you are perpetuating a fraudulent Judaism, only for the sake of making sales. I see you are not interested in reading this source, for yourself. Had you already read it, you would have removed your red strings. If you are an observant Jew, or a thinking individual who knows that God need not contend with red strings when rewarding or punishing, you would admit the following: a righteous person earns reward without the red string, and a Rasha will be punished, even if he does were this twined, dyed object. Study the Rishonim, see Rambam’s 13 Principles and Hilchos Avodah Zarah. Also understand that deceiving others, in the name of Torah, is of the worst sins.
This Red String is prohibited, period. It matters none if you wrapped this string around Rachel herself. Such ideas are idolatrous. If you decide to keep this violation on your website, that is your decision. But note our position: to protect others from false notions that violate open Tosefta’s Shabbos. We will take all actions to make certain no one is misled by your deception. If however you remove it, we will have nothing but praise for your commitment to Judaism.
Additionally, now that you know of this Tosefta, you are bound to teach others of your mistake, in posted and prominent words, replacing the Red String on your website. Teach your brother Jews of the Torah truths. That is a real “Torah obligation”, in stark contrast to foolish Red String sales. If you do not inform your website visitors of this Tosefta, then you desire to keep them blind to an open Tosefta of Gemara Shabbos.
One final thought: Judaism’s
Fundamentals - the Yesodos of Yahadus - are at the core of Jewish belief, and
are more essential than all other considerations in our short lives.
These include a firm conviction in God’s exclusive responsibility for each individual’s fate. For this reason, all forms of charms, idols, and worship attributing ANY responsibility for fortune or mishap to anything but God, are strictly prohibited. One’s idea of God is completely wrong; when he feels other forces protect him. In such a case, God is no longer the ONLY force. It makes no difference how many Jews are mislead by this Emorite practice of wearing red strings. The Rishonim were completely against this. Their opinion must outweigh the fools of today. They were the wise ones. They possessed the correct, proven position of Toras Moshe.
Furthermore, no one wearing a thread is protected from a drunken driver, and no one who refrains from donning such foolish devices is more open to danger. Reason proves this, and Torah is synonymous with reason. Conversely, ask these Red String promoters for “proof” of the success of this bendel, and they come up dry. No doctor would suggest wearing a Red String if a woman was infertile, or if a man had cancer. He would in fact laugh at such a practice, as it violates reason. Maimonides was a doctor, and he did not treat people with red bendels, but with surgery and medicine.
Both, Torah and reason refute the validity of dyed threads affecting our reality, or altering God’s wishes for us. God alone is the source of our fortune, and this concept is so primary, that we all must protect it.
I express this to you so you understand our strong position against your sale of these ancient, idolatrous sins of the heathens, adopted by foolish Jews.”
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim